Spokane Valley, Washington – Camp Fire Northwest has been an innovative leader in youth development since 1910. Once known as Camp Fire USA and also Camp Fire Girls, the non-profit is now simply Camp Fire Northwest.
“Camp Fire is a youth focused organization that helps youth become more engaged,” said Connor Christie, Camp Fire director of fund development and community engagement. “We find that if youth are more connected with nature – at our summer camps - they do better in school, they do better overall.” Camp Fire recently received a grant from the Avista Foundation.
Camps Sweyolakan and Dart-Lo are the two main summer camp locations operated by Camp Fire Northwest. Staffed by counselors, lifeguards and activity specialists, the camps are bustling with youth all summer. Financial support available for those who otherwise can’t afford to go to camp.
“We offer camp scholarships, both fully funded and partially funded. Last year we sent more than 300 youth to camp for little or no money,” Christie said.
To reach underserved youth, Camp Fire Northwest partners with organizations such as the Salish School of Spokane and the Dr. Matin Luther King Jr. Community Center.
“We are always working on becoming more inclusive and making our camps more inclusive,” Christie said, adding that camps now feature gender neutral restrooms. “We just want to make sure everyone feels welcome at camp.”
Summer camp stayed open during COVID because the camps were big enough for campers to keep a healthy social distance.
“But this is a year-round organization. We offer school day out events, and we offer clubs for youth and other out of school programming,” Christie said. “We just did one for Veterans Day which the schools had off, but many parents didn’t.”
Going into 2023, Christie said Camp Fire is working on revitalizing its club programming.
“We used to be one of the largest clubs in the nation. We want to get back to that,” Christie said. “We have been here for more than 100 years and we want to make sure we continue for at least another 100.”